Parents tend to set personal goals but aren’t as quick to set or contemplate goals for their children. There are things you can focus on to improve wellness and quality of life for both you and your family in the new year.
Here are 10 resolutions our team at Children’s Hospital of Georgia recommends to improve wellness and quality of life for both you and your family in the new year:
1. Provide a safe environment.
“Take steps to make sure your home, car, school, and other environments are child-friendly and safe,” says Renee McCabe of Safe Kids Greater Augusta.
Use car seats and seat belts for appropriate ages and sizes. Keep hazardous materials and objects in locked areas and out of your children’s reach. Keep medications and weapons locked away. We hear about so many accidents involving guns in the home, and these are preventable tragedies.
2. Live tobacco-free.
“Make this the year to quit,” encourages Christine O’Meara, director of the Georgia Cancer Center’s Office of Cancer Information and Awareness. “Talk to your doctor about quitting tips and tobacco cessation classes.”
3. Be physically active.
Encourage your kids to be active for at least one hour every day. Include activities that raise breathing and heart rates and that strengthen muscles and bones.
“Find fun, safe, activities that you can do as a family, like walking or riding bikes,” says Dr. Gregory Kalv, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.
4. Get some sleep.
“How you feel and perform during the day is related to how much sleep you get the night before,” explains Dr. Kathleen McKie, an expert in pediatric sleep medicine. “Sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of chronic disease prevention and health promotion.”
Sleep needs vary from person to person and from adults to children, so check with your primary care physician if you are unsure how much sleep is required for you and your children.
5. Set and keep routine checkups.
Routine checkups, including dental and eye exams, help identify ways to stay healthy, provide the opportunity to receive preventive care, and often uncover health problems early when treatment is most effective.
6. Stay current on immunizations.
Nobody really likes getting a shot, especially children, but timely immunizations help prevent diseases and save lives.
“Even kids who are not vaccinated are well protected now because the rest of the public is vaccinating,” said Dr. Jim Wilde, an infectious disease expert and pediatric emergency room physician.
Keep a record of your family’s vaccinations so you can stay up-to-date with CDC recommendations. Ask about vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia, and other illnesses that are now requiring boosters in adulthood. If you have questions, ask your doctor.
7. Maintain a healthy diet.
“Obesity is a major health issue for children and adults in the United States,” says Dr. Renee Hilton, a bariatric surgeon and director of the Augusta University Health Center for Obesity & Metabolism.
Resolve to serve healthy meals and snacks to your family, and teach children to choose meals and snacks wisely. How can you tell good snacks from bad? Eat snacks that require washing, peeling, and/or slicing, such as raw fruits and vegetables. If it comes in a bag, box, can, bottle, or wrapper, then it’s probably not healthy. Be sure to watch portion sizes, too.
8. Monitor your children.
Essentially this is the primary role of parenting – to ‘parent’ your children.
“Kids learn – both good and bad lessons – from family, friends, media, school, and other influences,” says Dr. Dale Peeples, a pediatric psychiatrist.
Know who they spend time with, what they’re doing, and if the activities are appropriate. Limit TV and non-essential computer time. And get familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and the like in order to carefully monitor or limit social media activity if you choose to allow your children to participate.
9. Nurture your family.
“Kids need the support and love of family and friends,” shares Dr. Christopher Drescher, a pediatric psychologist. “Converse with your children regularly and show them you care about what’s going on in their lives.”
Respond to their physical and emotional needs. It’s important for kids to grow in a safe, loving, and secure environment. Examine your schedule. If you are overextended, perhaps you should cancel or reschedule less important engagements in order to spend quality time with your family.
10. Practice what you preach.
Dr. Drescher says that one of the best things a parent can do for their children is to model a healthy lifestyle. Teach children to make wise and healthy choices every day, including fastening their seat belts, wearing helmets and protective sports equipment, using sun protection, proper hygiene, and treating others with kindness and respect. Your children will learn best when you model the good behavior you wish them to show.
While most of these resolutions seem like common sense, if you steer your children toward healthy resolutions now, the more likely they are to carry these healthy habits with them into adulthood. Happy New Year! 🎉